Labor Day weekend travel expected to dip
AAA Mid-Atlantic projects that slightly over 1 million Virginians will take a trip of 50 miles or more away from home for the 2009 Labor Day Holiday, a decrease of 15 percent from 2008. The decrease, according to AAA, can be attributed primarily to the fact that Labor Day fell on Sept. 1 last year allowing for a long weekend trip before a new school year started in most areas of the Commonwealth. This year, however, Labor Day is Sept. 7, when the school year has already started for many children.
The association noted that although projections are down significantly for this Labor Day holiday, it is still projected to be the third busiest Labor Day this decade and will outpace the July 4th, 2009 holiday, typically the busiest automobile travel holiday of the year. The gap between the 2008 and 2009 numbers is also a result of a higher than expected number of travelers in 2008. “Pent up demand, receding gas prices and great last minute travel deals all contributed to an unusually high number of travelers in 2008, thus the 2009 number looks pale in comparison,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
The good news this Labor Day travel weekend: gas prices are down significantly from where they were last year at this time. Last Labor Day weekend Virginia’s average price of self-serve, regular gasoline dropped to $3.53 per gallon after peaking at an all-time record of $4.01 per gallon on July 17, AAA said. This, combined with the earliness of the holiday and the emergence of end of summer travel discounts, caused large numbers of travelers to make a last minute decision to take a holiday trip. As of today, the average price of self-serve, regular gasoline in Virginia is $2.47. It is anticipated that gas will be approximately one dollar per gallon less expensive this Labor Day than last.